Most full time programs that include children under five years old schedule a nap or rest time as part of the day. An important component of the day, rest time gives children the chance to physically rest and emotionally unwind. This midday break can go a long way in helping children stay healthy, alert and emotionally centered in the afternoon. When planning this part of the day be sure to consult your state or local regulations regarding naptime. There may be time, environmental, or safety and supervision guidelines you need to adhere to. Of course, children should be supervised at all times. Those considerations aside, here are some tips to make rest time a truly pleasant and restful time of the day.
- Although you may ask all children to be fairly quiet, you can not expect all children to sleep. For children that are not napping, it is helpful to allow them to play with quiet activities. You may choose to set aside a separate area or simply provide books or puzzles for children to have while on their mats.
- By calling this time rest or quiet time you may avoid resistance from children who don't like "naps". Also this more accurately defines what you expect of them at this time.
- It is appropriate to allow children to have a comfort object from home such as a pillow or teddy bear. Even the outgoing rambunctious preschooler may need a little "love anchor" from home when they are trying to calm down.
- The beginning of rest time is often a major shift in activity level and mood for young children. View this as a time of transition and plan calming routines beforehand. Some useful rituals or routines may include reading a story, listening to soft music, or back pats/rubs.
- Recognize waking is also a major transition for young children who may be initially disoriented or cranky, allow them to wake slowly with your calm reassurances.